Cablegate: Nas Monthly Report for August


DE RUEHBO #3887/01 2972118
R 232118Z OCT 08




E.O. 12958: N/A


1. (SBU) SUMMARY: In August, the Government of Colombia (GOC)
aerially eradicated 16,524 hectares; the Colombian National Police
(CNP) seized 30 metric tons of cocaine and coca base, 17 metric tons
of marijuana, and 74 kilograms (kgs) of heroin, and captured 1,973
metric tons of precursor chemicals. Manual eradication operations
were marred by a record number of casualties. The interdiction team
saw multiple successes in the destruction of HCl labs and capture of
various illegal materials. Operation Firewall, the Joint/Combined
Inter-agency operation run along Colombia's Northern Coast (Costa
Caribe), successfully concluded during the first week in August.
GRUIN captured several high-ranking associates of "Don Mario",
dealing his organization a severe blow. END SUMMARY


2. (SBU) For the month of August 2008, ERAD totaled a very good
spray record with 16,524 hectares of coca sprayed. AT-802s
operating this month were the RAPTOR (FOL San Jose del Guaviare),
CONDOR (FOLs Caucasia and Larandia), and LOBO (FOL Tumaco) teams
spraying 5,273, 5,491, and 5,760 hectares, respectively. This
month's total of 16,524 hectares brings our calendar year total to
103,865 hectares of coca sprayed. Eradication aircraft were
attacked in five hostile fire incidents in August resulting in five
impacts, bringing the total to 43 hostile fire incidents for the
year, resulting in 88 impacts.

3. (SBU) Recent rains in Nario department have hampered production
somewhat, although the Tumaco Lobos continue to produce the highest
spray numbers. Toward the end of the month, the Condors began to
replace the Tumaco Lobos in producing the highest numbers of
hectares sprayed. Although the Raptor team at San Jose is beginning
to encounter better weather, the Raptors' performance continues to
be hampered by the exclusion of a significant area of the Plan
Conjunto Integral del Macarena (PCIM) from aerial spray. DIRAN
estimates that the coca in this area represents approximately 5,000
hectares (up to 25 percent of the coca in Meta and Guaviare). The
C-208 Caravan is 30 percent complete developing reconnaissance to
document what, if any, coca-related operations are currently ongoing
in this exclusion area. In spite of poor weather and the exclusion
of large zones of coca production from aerial eradication, the
contractor currently remains above the line toward the annual spray
goal of 130,000 hectares, with approximately nine-thousand hectares
remaining to accomplish that goal.


4. (SBU) Phase III of the GOC's 2008 manual eradication campaign
(GME program) kicked off on July 15 and will end in mid-September.
Total coca eradication for Phase III through August 31 was 19,324
hectares - bringing the GME program's year-to-date total to 49,508
hectares. The pace of manual eradication picked up in August due to
an increase in the number of GMEs in the field. However, with only
three months left in the 2008 manual eradication campaign (the
program traditionally shuts down in December) the GOC is still well
short of its manual eradication goal of 100,000 hectares. At any
one time, there are between 200 and 230 mobile eradication groups
operating in ten departments. In August, two separate landmine
incidents killed two eradicators and one security personnel. Nine
eradicators and one security personnel were also injured. Through
August, 23 people (11 civilians and 12 security personnel) have died
during this year's manual eradication operations, surpassing the
sixteen killed during the entire 2007 campaign.

5. (SBU) Separate from the GME program, the COLAR and the CNP
conducted manual eradication as part of their normal operations.
Through the end of August, COLAR has eradicated 8,026 hectares of
coca, 203 hectares of poppy, and 11 hectares of marijuana, and the
CNP has eradicated 816 hectares of coca, 119 hectares of poppy, and
12 hectares of marijuana. A total of 58,695 hectares of illicit
crops (58,350 hectares of coca) have been manually eradicated
through 2008.


6. (SBU) In August, the interagency complaints committee received
174 new claims of alleged spray damage to legal crops. NAS paid
three complaints totaling 12,390,000 COP(approximately 6,000 USD),
and 11,500,000 COP (approximately 5,700 USD) in advances; 61,474,000
COP (approximately 30,000 USD)will complete these payments in

7. (SBU) NAS received a health complaint from four farmers in Meta
stating that glyphosate caused unspecified health problems. After
reviewing the case, it was determined that no spray occurred in the
area on the specified day.

8. (SBU) The 18th Verification Mission, which analyzes various
variables to give insight on the effectiveness of recent spray
operations, is planned for September 18-25. The verification team
will visit two departments, Antioquia and Nario, and Gyrocam images
will be used to analyze the remaining departments. This year the
mission will incorporate a manual eradication component, where
raters will look for the percentage of coca that has been


9. (SBU) PCHP aircraft flew a total of 764.8 hours in August. PCHP
Aircraft operated from Tumaco, San Jose, and Tolemaida. PCHP
aircraft provided air assaults, air movements, reconnaissance,
medical evacuations, and support missions for the CD Brigade and
other vetted COLAR units. Air assaults continued to be an effective
means of increasing security for aerial eradication spray operations
and CN interdiction operations conducted by BACNA units of the CD
Brigade. PCHP flew 48.4 hours supporting 15 medical evacuation
flights that transported 22 patients.

10. (SBU) Aircrew continuation/mission training and aircraft
qualification training were conducted throughout the month in both
the UH-60 and UH-II. PCHP also qualified two maintenance test pilots
in the UH-II.

11. (SBU) In May of this year 18 PCHP UH-1N helicopters were loaned
to the GOC under a bilateral agreement as a no cost lease. Under
the terms of this agreement the aircraft are maintained and operated
exclusively by COLAR. On 15 August one of the loaned UH-1Ns (EJC
218) crashed while performing a re-supply mission to a pinnacle. The
aircraft was destroyed; only one crewmember received minor injuries.

12. (SBU) This month PCHP aircraft performed multiple air assault
operations supporting Counter Drug Brigade soldiers from Tumaco and
San Jose forward operating locations destroying dozens of coca
producing laboratories.

13. (SBU) The program continues to provide limited logistical
support to the host nation Helicopter Flight School located in
Melgar Air Force Base. PCHP is assisting NAS Peru's aviation
program by facilitating coordination with the Colombian Air Force
for three Peruvian National Police Pilots attending the school and
providing personnel administration services. The Peruvian Police
instructor pilot is providing helicopter flight instruction and two
Peruvian Police officers are receiving rotary wing flight training.

14. (SBU) August was not a good month for Colombia Aviation - three
helicopters were lost in separate incidents.

15. (SBU) On August 4, 2008 an improvised explosive device was
command-detonated on a pinnacle landing zone used for training that
resulted in the destruction of a Colombian Air Force helicopter
(Bell 206) from the Melgar Air Base flight School. All three crew
members were killed. The instructor pilot killed during this attack
was also the Commander of the flight school.

16. (SBU) On August 17, a host nation UH-60L was destroyed in an
accident while on approach to a pinnacle during an operational
mission. There were no fatalities; passengers were lightly injured.
The accident is still under investigation.

17. (SBU) PCHP continues to provide air support to the manual
eradication operations in Nario. For this calendar year, PCHP has
flown 290.7 hours in support of manual eradication missions

18. (SBU) During August, PCHP also provided airlift support for two
VIP missions. PCHP transported a STAFDEL visit from Tumaco to a
manual eradication site to view an ongoing aerial eradication
operation mission. PCHP provided eight helicopters for the second
mission transporting the U.S. Ambassador and an international
delegation that included the Vice President of Colombia. Both
missions were extremely well executed demonstrating the high
standards and professionalism of COLAR crews who participate in the
Plan Colombia Helicopter Program.


19. (SBU) ARAVI's NAS-supported fleet flew 1779 mission hours in
August. Seven UH-60 Black Hawks closed out the month with 133
flight hours and an Operational Readiness (OR) rate of 64 percent.
The Alert System (aircraft flight data recorder) was installed on
PNC 0603, and software training was completed on August 27.


20. (SBU) During August, the CNP seized 30 metric tons of cocaine
HCl and cocaine base, 18 metric tons of marijuana, and 74 kgs of
heroin. The CNP also destroyed 21 cocaine HCl labs, 105 coca base
labs and one heroin lab, and captured 1,973 metric tons of precursor

21. (SBU) During the week of August 1-7, the Tulua Airmobile Company
(2 x UH-60s, 1 x UH-II, and 50 Junglas (Colombian Antinarcotics
Police Airmobile Commandos)) conducted interdiction operations in
Cauca and Nario, hitting an HCl lab and capturing 17.5 kgs of
heroin in a cache site in Nario. The Tulua Airmobile Company hit a
second HCl lab 43 miles northwest of Popayan, destroying 736 kgs of
cocaine. On August 3, the DIRAN Northern Zone captured a Go-Fast
containing almost three metric tons of cocaine near the coast of
Puerto Bolivar, Guajira. On August 9, the Santa Marta Junglas
destroyed a cocaine HCl lab near Cucuta containing 425 kgs of solid
and 2,305 gallons of liquid precursors. On August 13, the DIRAN
Cucuta Company captured 44 kgs of heroin at a road checkpoint near
Puerto Santander, Cucuta. On August 25, DIRAN concluded Operation
Six Frontiers (Phase 10) capturing 474,601 gallons and 69.4 tons of
precursor chemicals. This operation focused on interdicting
precursor chemicals in the departments of Antioquia, Cordoba, and
Putumayo. The Bogota Airmobile Company set up an intelligence
driven roadblock outside San Jose del Guaviare and captured a jeep
with 42 kgs hidden in a floor compartment. On August 26, the Santa
Marta Airmobile Company, with 3 x UH60s and 3 x UH-IIs, captured
nine members of the Daniel Rendon Herrera (Don Mario) Uraba BACRIM.
On August 26, the Bogota Airmobile Company moved by road and
destroyed a cocaine HCl lab on the outskirts of La Mesa,
Cundinamarca, containing 69 kgs of cocaine. On August 27, the DIRAN
Chemical Group captured 4.3 metric tons of precursor chemicals near
Cota, Cundinamarca. On August 27, the DIRAN Western Zone Chemical
Group established a road checkpoint near Cerrito, Valle Department
and captured 16.8 metric tons of precursor chemicals hidden in a gas
tanker. On August 28, the DIRAN Chemical Control Group captured 5.1
metric tons of sulfuric acid at a road checkpoint near Puerto
Valdivia, Antioquia. On August 30, the DIRAN Western Zone and
Chemical Group captured seven kgs of heroin at a road check point
near Cali.

22. (SBU) The US Army Special Forces Pequenas Unidades Course began
(August 7-September 26) in Pijaos, featuring close quarters combat
and heavy weapons training for forty students. The Jungla
International Course (July 22-December 01, 2008) continues with 16
International students and 137 Colombian Nationals (largest group in
history); and the Combat Medic Course (July 16-Dec 26) continues
with forty students in attendance.


23. (SBU) In July, DIRAN's Ports and Airports Area (ARPAE) unit
seized 0.6 kgs of cocaine at the Port of Pereira; 17.7 kgs of
cocaine at the airport of Cali; 45.8 kgs of cocaine, 3.5 kgs of
heroin and 3.7 kgs of marijuana at the airport of Bogota. NAS-Peru
continues the 13-week K-9 training at the CNP K-9 Academy in
Facatativa. The DIRAN K-9 Company started activities sending
aveterinarian to each unit to verify dog's health conditions.

24. (SBU) The DIRAN polygraph unit conducted polygraph exams on 92
members of the DIRAN's Interdiction, Ports and Airports Area (ARPAE)
unit. Sixty-six of them passed the exam, 24 failed, and two results
were inconclusive. The ICE Polygraph Institute confirmed that one
of the DIRAN polygraphists failed the exam and authorized the other
two to repeat it.

25. (SBU) There were 6422 air tracks over Colombia in August of
which four were declared Unknown, Assumed Suspect (UAS). Host
Nation responded to all four. Two were not located by the tracker
aircraft. The other two were visually identified over the Caribbean
and the information was passed on to Central American Law
Enforcement Agencies. One of them was located in Guatemala and
impounded by the authorities. Colombian Air Force and Navy
coordinated to impound a GO-FAST vessel in the Pacific Ocean with
373 kgs of marihuana, 65 kgs of cocaine, and three weapons. Three
crewmembers of the illegal vessel were arrested.


26. (SBU) The CD Brigade's long-range surveillance Platoon (LRSP) 2
and 3 battalions continue to support aerial eradication efforts --
they conducted interdiction operations from bases in Tumaco, Nario,
and San Jose del Gauviare. The first battalion is in direct support
of manual eradication in the 10 kilometer buffer zone near the
Colombia/Ecuador border. In August, the Brigade carried out
counternarcotics operations against the FARC's 30 and 48 Fronts, and
organized crime organizations in San Miguel Putumayo, Calamar
Guaviare and Lopez de Micay Cauca. The Brigade secured a total of
10,691 hectares during aerial eradication operations and 441
hectares during manual eradication operations. The Brigade
destroyed one HCl lab, four coca base labs, two enemy camps, and
seized 247 kgs of coca paste, 9,090 gallons of liquid precursors,
3,280 kgs of solid precursors, and 1,025 kgs of coca leaf
in-process. The Brigade also confiscated two boats. During an
interdiction operation, the First battalion captured a
narcoterrorist in San Miguel, Putumayo.

--------------------------------------------- ----
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27. (SBU) Carabineros squadrons are currently deployed in Putumayo,
Nario and Meta Departments conducting manual eradication
operations. A total of 3 squadrons are conducting operations as
part of a search block against the Emerging Criminal Bands in Uraba,
Choco, Antioquia and Cordoba Departments. Other squadrons continue
their normal missions of rural security and security along the major
lines of communications. Squadron members in Uraba working with
police intelligence conducted an operation in which 130,000 rounds
of AK-47 ammo was seized. The squadrons had 2 contacts with the FARC
and ELN, destroyed 5 camps, seized 6 caches and destroyed 20
laboratories (both base and HCL) during August.

28. (SBU) The Rural Comando Operations (COR) currently has 1800
students in the basic course, 45 in the Advanced Combat Medic's
course; the CORgraduated 19 from the Designated Marksmanship course
during August.

29. (SBU) Results for August were: 126 Captures(4 narcos, 2
FARC/ELN, 18 BACRIM and 102 common criminals); seized: 158 weapons ,
4139 galllons of liquid precursors, 5005 kgs of solid precursors,
160 kgsof cocaine, 185 kgs of marijuana, 25 vehicles, and 76 hand


30. (SBU) The coordination for the next one-month Base Defense
course continued. Course is scheduled to be conducted in Tumaco,
Nario, and will begin once the vetting of the students has been

31. (SBU) Operation Firewall, the Joint/Combined Inter-agency
operation run along Colombia's Northern Coast (Costa Caribe) which
was begun in July concluded the first week of August. The
highlights of the operation included several first-time
accomplishments. This was the first time that simultaneous
operations were coordinated and conducted. Firewall, OPDAGGER, and
Stiletto were intertwined and their conduct involved both
multi-lateral and unilateral actions. The participation of the
COLAR CD Brigade's recon platoon was the first time they had
participated in a Firewall Operation and based on their results and
willingness to be a principle contributor their participation in the
future is highly recommended. One final point of note was the
ability, for the first time, to forward base the joint/combined
inter-agency operational base in the Gulf of Uraba in-conjunction
with the Inter-agency Coordination Center (IACC) established at the
DEA Headquarters on the North Coast. The IACC has been the primary
operational base for the past three years and this additional
capability to forward base will expand the scope of operational
capabilities which bodes well for future Firewall Operations.

32. (SBU) The GRUIN NVD lab renovations continued through August and
are currently 95percent complete. The final modifications are
scheduled to be complete by mid-September.

33. (SBU) NAS interdiction advisor, John Hincapie, working in
conjunction with the MILGP End-Use-Monitoring (EUM) program was able
to identify, locate, and report on 19 NVD's within the Colombian
National Police as requested by DOS EUM office (Wash).


34. (SBU) In the Month of August, the GRUIN working jointly with CTI
conducted an operation against the criminal organization of Daniel
Rendon Herrera alias "Don Mario" where the number two ranking member
in the organization was captured; Jhon Freddy Manco Torres alias "el
indio". In a simultaneous mission, Camilo Torres Martinez alias
"Fritanga" was captured in Medellin as well. The capture of these
two individuals dealt a severe blow to the narcoterrorist
organization of Don Mario.

35. (SBU) In addition, the GRUIN have conducted threereconnaissance
operations against organizations belonging to los Paisas y los
Nevados in the Uraba area of operations. In the three missions the
unit was able to verify personnel, terrain, mobility corridors,
ranch activity, vehicle movement, boat movements, and night
activities in the ranches. The reconnaissance will be used for
future operations against these potential targets.


36. (SBU) The demobilization program continues to receive an
increased number of individuals as compared to previous years,
totaling 2,238 demobilized through August 31. The increase is most
notable in FARC units which have lost their leadership due to
successful Colombian security operations. The most common
motivation for demobilization is military pressure which was up 17
percent from 2007, followed by poor quality of life and abuse. The
current "carrot and stick" approach of incentives coupled with the
constant military pressure is reaping great rewards for the
Colombian Ministry of Defense.

37. (SBU) Planning for the third major event in southern Colombia
encouraging demobilization was completed and will take place in San
Vicente del Caguan, Caqueta, on September 10. As during previous
occasions, this event will include the "Peace Through Sports"
initiative and a parade of children espousing peace themes as in
previous events; it will also include a Vallenato concert and the
launching of dramatized video testimonials of demobilized
individuals. The event discourages acceptance of recruitment of
children by illegal groups and is overall designed to communicate
demobilization opportunities to thousands of people who are related
to members of paramilitary and guerrilla organizations.


38. (SBU) DIRAN data group accompanied MELTEC engineers to Medellin
(Rio Negro International Airport) to conduct a technical site survey
in support of a future network expansion project that will enable
the ANTIN airport police access to the secure CNP data network which
includes email, Internet, and access to national data bases. The
DIRAN data group also sent a contact team to the Tulua base to
conduct preventive maintenance on all of the computers and to verify
the network is operating properly. The data group continues working
with the Port security group on providing user support for the
Export Control system (SICEX in its Spanish acronym), which is a new
data base that helps to track all of the companies that engage in
the export of goods from Colombia. The DIRAN single channel group
displaced to Kennedy to install a TADIRAN repeater and conduct
preventive maintenance on all repeaters in the area. The TADIRAN
installation will increase the tactical radio coverage of the
TADIRAN network. The single channel group is prepared to replace a
Motorola Quantar repeater in Puerto Estella, because the current
antenna naturally became degraded. The DIRAN single channel group
also installed a Motorola Quantar repeater in Munchique, located in
the vicinity of Popayan in the Department of Cauca. The DIRAN radio
group sent a contact team to Larandia where they gave instructions
to the ANTIN group and accounted for all of the communications


39. (SBU) During the month of August, 8,000 lbs of C4 explosives
were delivered to Bogota, Colombia from Miami, Florida. The long
awaited C4 will be distributed to the Jungla Companies and used to
destroy HCl laboratories. In addition, 800 of Sig Sauer magazines
and 350 of Sig Sauer pistols arrived and will be distributed to the
Jungla Companies.


40. (U) During a meeting with the DNE, UNODC and the Ministry of
Social Protection to discuss the status of Colombia's National
Household Drug Consumption survey, NAS was told that the cost to
conduct the survey would be approximately 1,600 million pesos, which
is 300 million more than originally budgeted for. The DNE believes
that it has an additional 70 million pesos to apply to the project
but is asking NAS to provide the remaining 230 million needed for
the project.


42. (SBU) Under the framework of the National Forum "Drogas y su
Perspectiva en la Sald Pblica" organized by the Ministry of Social
Protection, two TV commercials on drug consumption prevention were
launched in August. These commercials are part of a campaign of
communications media, which seeks to make parents aware of their
responsibilities in the drug consumption prevention strategy. The
Shared Responsibility Office will launch two more commercials at the
governor's event in Popayan; these commercials link drug consumption
with narcoterrorism.

44. (SBU) NAS has agreed to finance an additional $230,000,000 (COP)
for DNE's National Household Drug Consumption survey. CICAD
Director Francisco Cumsille will be visiting Colombia to ensure that
the SIDUC methodology will be implemented properly. First results
will be published in December of this year. A memorandum of
understanding between NAS and DNE Directors was done to establish
responsibilities and obligations of the DNE with NAS.

45. (SBU) NAS's Culture of Lawfulness program sent five people from
DIRAN to assist the Annual DARE Conference. Four of them were
supported directly by DNE and the fifth was financially supported by


46. (U) Contract with Monsanto for continued glyphosate supplies has
been signed. Deliveries to FOLs continue without disruption.
Embassy intranet (OpenNet) service in theNAS Wwrehouse was
installed. Site surveys have been underway and the encryption
equipment is in the process of being ordered to extend OpenNet
service to NAS offices at El Dorado airport and Guaymaral base.


© Scoop Media

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